Muslim medical students at Birmingham University have been banned from wearing veils when dealing with patients.

Although Islamic women can wear the veil to lectures and around campus, they are prohibited from wearing it when dealing with patients, for communication, hygiene and security reasons.

A spokeswoman for the university said the students were free to wear headscarves and the veil ruling applied to any face-coverings regardless of race or religion.

The only exception is in the operating theatre, where surgical hygiene masks must be worn.

Also covered by the policy are meetings in GP surgery settings, where trainee doctors learn consultation skills.

About 450 student doctors study at Birmingham University's School of Medicine every year. A further 500 take nursing and physiotherapy degrees at its School of Health Sciences.

Both the schools have close relationships with Midland NHS hospitals and primary care trusts, including the University Hospital of Birmingham NHS Trust. But the UHB NHS Trust has no such ban.

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